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Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:03 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
A different thing for a change.

I wanted to try a lap steel a long time ago, but it's not an usual instrument in my country. You could order one from some luthiers, but is very hard to find one on the shelf.

The concept I had in mind was something with a bit longer scale than usual, to better clearance of notes (I have never touched a lap steel before). Yet, I needed something compact and lightweight. As a prototype, it has to be cheap too. So I came out with that design.

Specs:

23.5' scale
Woods: solid Marupá body, cocobolo bindings, rollers and bridge are unknown (recycled)
Pencil "fret" markings, and plastic dots
Old epi pickup
Piezo saddle pickup
Controls: balance pot for the pickups, master volume and tone

Some pics below.
Comments welcome.

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:09 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
front view

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:09 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
back view

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:13 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
another view

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:49 pm
by Charlie Schultz
Hi Henrique-
Nice work and interesting design! So the "nut" is a set of wooden rollers?

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:29 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
Thanks Charlie. That's right! I was concerned if the wood rollers would bear the string tension without splitting, but it didn't happen. It's tuned to drop D with a .14 string set. (Actually I was concerned about a dozen more things, but luckily most everything went out ok, with minor adjustments).

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:35 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
I just found that I have no good close pictures of the rollers. But here goes one.

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:40 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
They are grooved like a nut would, and roll over a 6mm steel rod. No bearings and no need for it. There are just a couple nylon bushings between the rollers and the body.

Advice to the beginners: be careful with cocobolo bindings on a light colored wood! Color bleed, finishing nightmares...

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:30 am
by Steve Senseney
Interesting design. It works!

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:45 am
by Jason Rodgers
Very cool design! Couple questions, that I'm sure you've thought about: Is there really enough room in the tuner cutout to get fingers in there? That area could always be enlarged without hurting the overall look and design. How necessary is the roller setup? I understand the need to not have a sharp transition over and around the back, but perhaps that end could have a nut (of similar material as the saddle) with a smaller roller setup or other smooth/slick bearing surface (like a Delrin rod). If you were interested in production, my guess is that end would take the most time.

Re: Henrique Schneiter's "Headless" Lap Steel

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:17 pm
by Henrique Schneiter
Thanks Steve.

Jason, thanks, and yes. At first that space felt too tight, than I enlarged it after my original sketch. I can tune it comfortably.

About the nut-rollers: Actually, on my very first sketch there was a nut after the rollers, wich soon dissapeared after I realize that it was not just unecessary but disturbing as well.

I went for that 5 cm roller diameter to allow the strings to have the "proper" height (2,5 cm) over the board and to avoid weakening the overall structure because of the back channel for the strings (hope you get the picture), as marupá is a rather soft wood. Of course a smaller roller would be appropriate for a different design, though (as some travel guitars have).

About the time, I think it took less time to make the rollers than to cut and notch properly a nut. I just cut them with a cup-saw, mounted them on my drill-press with a jig, set it to spin slowly and grooved the channel with a triangular file. Then some sanding, sealer, and you're ready to go.